Skip to main content


Vlog: Improving Instructions with Inquiry and Collaboration

Recent posts

Love: the Ultimate Pedagogy

I did not intend to love them; I did not particularly want to love them. I was never the bright-eyed rookie teacher out to change the world, one student at a time. I thought my job was to do the serious work of scholarship and academia. I was a professional — a high school English teacher. I was Miss Roberts, not your cookie-baking, kid-loving aunt.  But against my will and what I thought was my better judgment, I began to discover that I did love my students. At first I thought it was a surprising, pleasant side-effect of hanging out with the same people every week for nine months, but I did not consider it a valuable part of teaching. It seemed too flaky, too silly to even say out loud. The pivot point came after I changed schools, 15 years into my career. I loved my first job at Kellogg High School, my beloved hometown, but for a variety of reasons, in year 16 I made the move to the big city of Boise, 400 miles away. The transition was excruciating. I might as well have been

Believe in Your Seed

Twenty-five years ago, she was a student in my 10th-grade English class in Kellogg, a small mining town in Idaho’s panhandle. Now, she is an educator herself  — an elementary teacher in the same large district where I teach high school English. And today, she stood in front 3000 employees of the Boise School District and delivered a keynote address. Her speech was, to say the least, inspiring. It was expertly crafted — full of story, wit, insight, and charm. Her delivery was seamless, vivid, funny, and, quite frankly, better than any such talk I have heard in 31 years of opening meetings. (I say this as someone who is particularly passionate about public speaking. In fact, public speaking has become one of my greatest passions — both as a teacher who helps students craft presentations, and as someone who dreams of doing exactly what Sonia Galaviz did today.) As she spoke, I experienced her speech on several levels. I was the veteran teacher inspired by a somewhat younger t

Blog . . . actually Vlog: Reflections on Storytelling

Reflections on Running: Part One

Once upon a time, a girl started running. She was nursing a broken heart, and she needed to do something hard and rewarding. (Is easy ever rewarding? Hmmm, I wonder.) She stepped out of her back door and ran until she estimated she had gone as far as she could go . . . and still make it home. Later she discovered she had run just a little over a mile on that day. Over the next three years she ran, sometimes with consistency — three or four days a week — sometimes with month-long gaps in between, and, during a particularly satisfying stretch, 5-6 days a week, training for two marathons in one year. A pulmonary embolism in year six (and a scary doctor) slowed down her progress, and a demanding job made it easy to spend several months each year not running. But still . . . every time she saw a runner on the road, she looked longingly. She remembered the joy of listening to footfalls landing, one after another, for miles and miles and miles. She remembered the rhythm of breat

This is My Story

In the spring of 1986 I told the story of my brother’s proposal as a part of my lesson on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 — a lesson that I was delivering in my English methods course as a senior at the University of Idaho. Ten years and hundreds of students later, I was still teaching a version of that lesson to my freshmen at Kellogg High School, and the story had grown to be a more integral, a more intentional, a more dramatic part of that lesson. This story brought some sort of magic to my classroom. Students leaned in, faces and postures transformed, and sometimes tears welled up in their eyes. It was the best day of the school year. When I moved to Timberline High School in the sixteenth year of my career, I was reluctant to bring my sonnet lesson to this new venue. Moving to a new school had brought an unexpected dip in my confidence. Storytelling calls for a certain amount of vulnerability, and I just wasn’t sure I had enough courage to go to that vulnerable place. One day I

Surely God is in This Place

A friend wrote today to tell me how our music had been a "necessary balm" during her stressful week. She described some of the events of her week, and I would have to say "stressful" is an understatement. Still, I was delighted to hear that our music had brought her some peace in the midst of it all. But it was her final sentence that has lasted throughout my day: surely God is in this place. I had checked my email, while my students watched a short film clip, and when I read that phrase I felt it down to the soles of my feet. I felt its impact so profoundly that I had to put it away for later. The lights were about to come up. So tonight I went to her message again: surely God is in this place. Surely God is in this place. Of course I know this. I know He is an omnipresent God. I know He is sovereign. I know He has me (and He has you) in the palm of His hand. I know it. But somehow my friend's words--coming as they did after a story of mishap and i